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Eulogy for my Mother

A true Baltimorean author, Anne Tyler, opens “Dinner at the Homesick Hotel” about a dying mother speaking with her heartsick son. “You should have got an extra mother,” she can barely say to him.

“How shortsighted of you,” or so the son imagined his mother saying, since she could no longer form words.

He hears her say, or imagines her saying, “You should have arranged for a second-string mother.”

I read this book many years ago but that exchange stuck with me. Losing a parent is as natural as it is difficult and heartbreaking.

I was lucky to have my mother for 62 years.

As for getting an extra mother or a second-string mother, there is no substitute for your own mother.

As you all know, Annette Patz was a very patient woman. She didn’t mind waiting for her meal in a crowded restaurant, or for her doctor or dentist to see her. She could be nearly Zen-like.

Well, no, that’s not right. I must be thinking about that second-string mother that I’ll never get, or want.

My mother was not a calm person nor a Yoga master. Of late, too many trips to the ER pushed all this to the limit, perhaps. She’s been known to sign herself out of rehab centers. And, not so long ago, simply walked out of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, no walker; no wheelchair, and hailed a taxi back to her assisted living facility.

We’ve know that she had lost patience with living. She’d been through a lot, and many of the people she’d loved were gone.

I think she looked around at those still living: myself, her grandchildren, great grand daughter, siblings, and felt that we were OK.

She knew in fact how lucky she was to know little Abigail Rose and to know there was another great grand child on the way. All of her time with us, all of us, was precious.

She said goodbye knowing we would all do well.

I don’t have an extra mother; Justin, Jenna and Reid don’t have an extra grandmother; Naomi, Shirley and Howard don’t have an extra sister. Life isn’t fiction, as much as perhaps we would want our life stories to play out like novels.

There is no second string Annette Patz. We say goodbye today to the original, and each of us is lucky for knowing her.

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3 Responses to Eulogy for my Mother

  1. Yvette Choban says:

    Dear Susan,

    Losing our mothers is so very hard. My mother was 82 when she passed and I still think of her often, even though it has now been 13 years. Take care of yourself and know that I and others are with you.

  2. Susan Phillips says:

    Lovely. And true. She was something. You are something else entirely, but of a piece with her. Such a hard thing to lose your one and only mother, but I know you will find your way. xxoo

  3. Dana says:

    Dear Susan, what a lovely way of expressing this time, both painful yet anticipated, so full of emotion yet stating the practical and the truth. I hope your words will continue to help you in your journey – although you lost A dear tour guide, you already have your own Beautiful paths and many people that you guide yourself thanks to what you have learned. Peace be with you.

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